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Memory

  • The memory is like orbiting twin stars, one visible, one dark, the trajectory of what's evident forever affected by the gravity of what's concealed.

  • ... I wear the key of memory, and can open every door in the house of my life ...

  • When we live with a memory we live with a corpse; the impact of the experience has changed us once but can never change us again.

  • Memory seldom fails when its office is to show us the tombs of our buried hopes.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.

  • As to memory, it is known that this frail faculty naturally lets drop the facts which are less flattering to our self-love — when it does not retain them carefully as subjects not to be approached, marshy spots with a warning flag over them.

  • One seems to have two kinds of memory. The first is just thought. I remember thus and so. It does not touch you. It is mental only, though quite accurate and cold. But the second is something else. There is an inner door to memory and when you open it, it is all right there. You are there. ... I find it is quite painful to push open that inner door. It is not that the experiences then were painful nor yet that they were so happy that I look back with too much longing on them. It's just that I feel it — life — so vividly, almost more vividly than I did then, and its very vividness is a kind of anguish.

  • Don't think. That is the wrong way to bring anything back. Let it go. Sooner or later it will flash into your mind.

  • As a life's work, I would remember everything — everything, against loss. I would go through life like a plankton net.

  • The faculty of memory cannot be separated from the imagination. ... To one degree or another, we all invent our personal pasts.

  • The mind is a phonograph which shall keep and echo the impressions of the past.

  • Memory is a slick politician who will support either side of the argument loyally.

  • How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.

  • Memory is the true function of age.

  • History may alter old pretenses and victories / but not the pain my sister never the pain.

  • Memory is the crux of our humanity. Without memory we have no identities. That is really why I am committing an autobiography.

  • Memory is the most transient of all possessions. And when it goes, it leaves as few traces as stars that have disappeared.

  • Proust's tea cake has nothing on one hour in a college dorm.

  • ... I'm at the age when remembering something right away is as good as an orgasm.

  • Thoughts are like stars in the firmament; some are fixed, others like the wandering planets, others again are only like meteors. Understanding is like the Sun, which gives light to all the thoughts. Memory is like the Moon, it hath its new, its full and its wane.

    • Margaret Cavendish,
    • "Aphorisms," The Cavalier and His Lady: Selected From the Works of the First Duke and Duchess of Newcastle ()
  • Memories are less tangible than dreams.

  • We all make, I think, traitors of our memories (to credit our own lies).

    • Dorothy Thompson,
    • 1960, in William Holtz, ed., Dorothy Thompson and Rose Wilder Lane: Forty Years of Friendship ()
  • Memories are fifty percent of life!

  • Memory is a magnet. It will pull to it and hold only material nature has designed it to attract.

  • The conversation of two people remembering, if the memory is enjoyable to both, rocks on like music or lovemaking. There is a rhythm and a predictability to it that each anticipates and relishes.

  • Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.

  • There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient — at others, so bewildered and so weak — and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control!

  • Back on its golden hinges / The gate of Memory swings, / And my heart goes into the garden / And walks with the olden things.

  • Memory's a freakish bank / where embarrassing treasures / still draw interest.

  • Bless the gift of memory / that breaks unbidden, released / from a flower or a cup of tea / so the dead move like rain through the room.

    • Marge Piercy,
    • "Interpretation of the She'ma," The Art of Blessing the Day ()
  • Perhaps, from an innate desire of justification, sorrow always exaggerates itself. Memory is quite one of Job's friends; and the past is ever ready to throw its added darkness on the present.

  • Memory has many conveniences, and, among others, that of foreseeing things as they have afterwards happened.

  • Ah! there are memories that will not vanish; / Thoughts of the past we have no power to banish ...

  • It's a pleasure to share one's memories. Everything remembered is dear, endearing, touching, precious. At least the past is safe — though we didn't know it at the time. We know it now. Because it's in the past; because we have survived.

  • Of all our sorrows, memory is the worst.

  • I suppose that we are only young, Chris, so long as we can forget. After that we merely remember!

  • My memory is certainly in my hands. I can remember things only if I have a pencil and I can write with it and I can play with it. ... I think your hand concentrates for you. I don't know why it should be so.

    • Rebecca West,
    • in George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work, 6th series ()
  • ... the best way to remember a beautiful city or a beautiful painting is to eat something while you are looking at it. The flavor really helps the image to penetrate the body. It fixes it as lacquer does a drawing.

  • There can be no harm / In just remembering — that is all.

  • ... memory is to love what the saucer is to the cup.

  • I know that I have in my make-up layers of synthetic experiences, and that the most powerful of my memories are only half true.

  • ... nothing became real for her until she had had time to live it over again. An actual occurrence was nothing but the blankness of a shock, then the knowledge that something had happened; afterwards one could creep back and look into one's mind and find new things in it, clear and solid. It was like waiting outside the hen-house until the hen came off the nest and then going in to look for the egg.

  • The charm, one might say the genius, of memory is that it is choosy, chancy and temperamental; it rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust.

  • Memory must be patchy; what is more alarming is its face-savingness. Something in one shrinks from catching it out — unique to oneself, one's own, one's claim to identity, it implicates one's identity in its fibbing.

  • they ask me to remember / but they want me to remember / their memories / and I keep on remembering / mine.

  • In the evening we went for another walk. Sinking into sand, Sam's tracks were bright meteors, appearing suddenly, then fading to black. I stood in water up to my knees, grabbing phosphorescence and invisible plankton, squeezing light out of the ocean's dark brew. Light is chemical, electrical, mineral, just the way memory is, and I wondered if light had invented the ocean and my hand dragging through it, or if memory had invented light as a form of time thinking about itself.

  • I think Heaven will not be as good as earth, unless it bring with it that sweet power to remember, which is the staple of Heaven here.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1879, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • ... Memory is a strange Bell --

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1882, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 3 ()
  • Change occurs everywhere, except in the memory.

  • ... smell is the closest thing human beings have to a time machine ...

    • Caryl Rivers,
    • "Growing Up Catholic in Midcentury America," in New York Times Magazine ()
  • ... pictures made in childhood are painted in bright hues ...

  • Memories began swarming in, vivid and impatient, like a litter of little mice.

  • One form of loneliness is to have a memory and no one to share it with.

    • Phyllis Rose,
    • 1984, in Nancy R. Newhouse, ed., Hers: Through Women's Eyes ()
  • Remember me when I am gone away, / Gone far away into the silent land ...

  • I can understand that memory must be selective, else it would choke on the glut of experience. What I cannot understand is why it selects what it does.

  • One remembers different persons differently, some by the impact they have made on our emotions, and others by the impression they leave in our minds.

  • ... memory is so much better at unhappiness than happiness.

  • ... memory is so selective; wishful thinking presses it into service all the time.

  • His memory could work like the slinging of a noose to catch a wild pony.

  • Writing fiction has developed in me an abiding respect for the unknown in a human lifetime and a sense of where to look for the threads, how to follow, how to connect, find in the thick of the tangle what clear line persists. The strands are all there; to the memory nothing is ever really lost.

  • All that is buried is not dead.

  • Nothing can be dead so long as the memory remains ...

  • The body remembers what the mind forgets.

    • Gloria Hull,
    • "Young Girls' Blues," Healing Heart: Poems 1973-1988 ()
  • Memory ... is the diary we all carry about with us.

  • ... Indians think it is important to remember, while Americans believe it is important to forget.

  • The things we forget may as well never have happened, but she had many memories, both real and illusory, and that was like living twice.

  • There are about as many ways to be dead as there are to be alive. People linger in different ways, both publicly and privately.

  • Memory is earth's retribution for man's sins.

  • To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.

  • But it's also true that my memory is a card shark, reshuffling the deck to hide what I fear to know, unable to keep from fingering the ace at the bottom of the deck even when I'm doing nothing more than playing Fish in the daylight with children.

  • Looking back into childhood is like looking into a semi-transparent globe within which people and places lie embedded. A shake — and they stir, rise up, circle in inter-weaving groups, then settle down again.

  • ... memory is a storm I can't repel.

  • Memory is fragile and fluid. Sifted through layers of time and experience, some edges soften. Others reveal themselves with increased clarity. Disjointed happenings continue to shift and warp and seek out new connections. A writer never feels quite ready to call memory truth — and set it down.

  • Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth but not its twin.

  • It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.

  • If it's important, your heart remembers.

  • Cold natures have only recollections; tender natures have remembrances.

    • Juliana Krüdener,
    • in J. De Finod, ed., A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness ()
  • Old memories are so empty when they can not be shared.

    • Jewelle Gomez,
    • "No Day Too Long," in Elly Bulkin, ed., Lesbian Fiction ()
  • I can never remember things I didn't understand in the first place.

  • We usually remember best what has caused us the greatest embarrassment ...

  • I want to visit Memory Lane, I don't want to live there.

  • Oh, better than the minting / Of a gold-crowned king / Is the safe-kept memory / Of a lovely thing.

  • I fear / the place I have / in the memory of others. / They remind me of things / I myself have forgot.

    • Tove Ditlevsen,
    • "Self Portrait 4," in Joanna Bankier and Deirdre Lashgari, eds., Women Poets of the World ()
  • ... memory, that library of the soul from which I will draw knowledge and experience for the rest of my life.

  • Memories are our doors of escape, our compensation.

    • Dorothy Dix,
    • in Harnett T. Kane, Dear Dorothy Dix: The Story of a Compassionate Woman ()
  • ... like a leaf of lavender in a store of linen, so does Memory make life sweet.

  • I swear to keep the dead upon my mind, / Disdain for all time to be overglad.

  • But memory, after a time, dispenses its own emphasis, making a feuilleton of what we once thought most ponderable, laying its wreath on what we never thought to recall.

  • A person without a memory is either a child or an amnesiac. A country without a memory is neither a child nor an amnesiac, but neither is it a country.

  • Everything one does turns, at the very moment of doing it, into a reminiscence.

  • Memory is a skilled seducer.

  • ... I am rampant with memory.

  • Memories were like ivy, Thalia pondered, that with its luxuriant growth could quickly cover the names of those it had been planted to keep green.

  • ... the unconscious forces that govern accessible memory are the most arbitrary of editors and the absolute masters of our lives.

  • Memory is an act of meaning-making. It collects the disparate pieces of our lives and distills them.

  • The average person's short-term memory can hold only five to seven bits of data at any one moment. If you put more items in, others fall out. The older you are, the more you have crammed into those memory circuits. Twenty-five-year-olds can remember things because they still have empty space. Some of us take our children to the supermarket in the hope they will remember why we are there.

  • ... all my wealth is in my memories.

    • Ruth Draper,
    • 1932, in Neilla Warren, ed., The Letters of Ruth Draper ()
  • ... memory — the very skin of life ...

    • Elizabeth Hardwick,
    • "Living in Italy: Reflections on Bernard Berenson," A View of My Own ()
  • I have more questions than answers in this world as do most poets and writers. The field of memory we exist in is absolutely encompassing and is both a question and answer. It is memory that provides the heart with impetus, fuels the brain, and propels the corn plant from seed to fruit.

  • What a poet is hope! what a painter the memory!

  • Years cannot move / nor death's disorienting scale / distort those lamplit presences ...

  • The heart holds, like remembered music, / a landscape grown too dark to see.

  • It is less difficult to look beyond ... and foretell the future, than to look back and remember what has already gone before.

  • How cruely sweet are the echoes that start / When memory plays an old tune on the heart.

  • You remember with what you are at the time you are remembering.

  • ... memory is a drug. Memory can hold you against your strength and against your will ...

  • People need all the good memories they can keep with them in this world; they're a sort of steering apparatus in a life-boat ...

  • If over the years, and passing through the realities of life, dreams die, I still keep intact my memories, the salt of remembrance.

  • Memory was a grab bag, never any telling what would come out when you reached into it.

  • The thing remembered never was the thing itself, but altered by the thickening lens of time.

  • What is memory for if not to fortify and sustain?

  • But sometimes what we call 'memory' and what we call 'imagination' are not so easily distinguished.

  • She was an old woman now, and her life had become memories.

  • Memory is a trustworthy servant as long as it is made to serve.

  • Strange Power, I know not what thou art, / Murderer or mistress of my heart. / I know I'd rather meet the blow / Of my most unrelenting foe / Than live — as now I live — to be / Slain twenty times a day by thee.

  • Time does not act on memory to soften the edges, blur the details; if anything, it sharpens them. Emotions may lose their acid outlines, but not places and people, not if you wish to retain them.

  • Someday, when I'm awfully low, / When the world is cold, / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / And the way you look tonight.

    • Dorothy Fields,
    • with music by Jerome Kern, "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time ()
  • What a maddening thing a memory can be, dodging away from you when you're trying desperately to snag it, descending around you like a collapsing tent when you most want to forget it.

  • All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.

    • Toni Morrison,
    • "The Site of Memory," in William Zinsser, ed., Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir ()
  • What a strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, the other forward. The one is of today, the other is of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.

  • ... memory is more indelible than ink.

  • Memory walked through old men's minds like a choir boy swinging a censer.

  • Memory is the happiness of being alone.

  • Memories, she'd learned, were malleable animals. Wishes blended with facts and cemented into histories that people were shocked to find untrue.

  • And isn't it funny, she thought, that it takes two generations to kill off a man? ... First him, and then his memory ...

  • I cleared my throat — it isn't frogs you get in your throat; it's memories.

  • I have no memory. I always say to my friends, 'Don't tell me anything you don't want repeated. I just can't remember not to.'

  • Memories do not always soften with time; some grow edges like knives.

  • Though I live elsewhere, / Could I ever forget / The clear moon shining down / On that familiar place?

    • Lady Nijo,
    • 1291, in Karen Brazell, trans., Confessions of Lady Nijo ()
  • Down in the deep, up in the sky, / I see them always, far or nigh, / And I shall see them till I die — The old familiar faces.

  • ... so long and so slow had been her descent into poverty that a grandmother was needed to remember her setting out upon the road to it.

    • Grace King,
    • "The Old Lady's Restoration," Balcony Stories ()
  • There's nothing in the world that clings / As does a memory that stings; / While happy hours fade and pass, / Like shadows in a looking-glass.

  • I wonder — / ... / If memories / Are bliss enough / To make the dregs — divine!

  • I am constantly astonished by the fact that once you start to trawl through the waters of memory the strangest things get caught in the net.

  • And sometimes we cling because the memory is so painful that we can't stop visiting it and hoping to make it come out differently. The risk of letting go is that we have to confront our own selves and our own possibilities.

    • Amy Bloom,
    • in Joan Rivers, Bouncing Back ()
  • ... memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.

  • One of the best things about aging is being able to watch imagination overtake memory.

    • Harriet Doerr,
    • "Edie: A Life," The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions ()
  • I have everything I need. A square of sky, a piece of stone, a page, a pen, and memory raining down on me in sleeves.

    • Harriet Doerr,
    • "A Sleeve of Rain," The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions ()
  • The potion is not poison, / it is not Lethe and forgetfulness / but everlasting memory.

  • What I remember / hardly happened; / what they say happened / I hardly remember.

  • Traveling with Mami to Puerto Rico was a little like being around Rip van Winkle on the day he woke up. She wore an expression of constant wonderment: everything surprised her by how much it had changed, except for the things that surprised her because they were just as she remembered them.

  • Souvenirs are perishable; / fortunately, memories are not.

  • People always remember the tune they fell in love to.

  • It is better to remember our love as it was in the springtime.

  • Memory is, of course, a trickster.

  • I have a terrible memory; I never forget a thing.

  • The adventure is over. Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. Except the part you carry with you.

  • Looking repeatedly into the past, you do not necessarily become fascinated with your own life, but rather with the phenomenon of memory.

  • Here, in memory, we live and die.

  • In memory each of us is an artist: each of us creates.

  • Memory is, first, a captivating mystery.

    • Patricia Hampl,
    • "The Invention of Autobiography," I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory ()
  • The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the flesh is pressed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.

  • Not only was her memory as sheer as her stockings, but each thing it held shone through every other one so vividly that all were hopelessly suffused.

  • Memories stretch and pull around me — / Bark drying on a new canoe.

    • Mary TallMountain,
    • "Ts'eekkaayah," in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • Hope is the forward-looking part of memory.

  • ... memory is the only way home.

  • ... memories do not always behave in an orderly way, but bloom, as it were, erratically ...

  • Today I have much work to do: / I must finally kill my memory, / I must, so my soul can turn to stone, / I must learn to live again.

    • Anna Akhmatova,
    • "Requiem" (1935), in Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone, eds., A Book of Women Poets From Antiquity to Now ()
  • Scars are just another kind of memory.

  • Memories are links in a golden chain that bind us until we meet again.

  • Any time you try to collapse the distance between your delusions about the past and what really happened, there's suffering involved.

  • ... everybody I know who wades deep enough into memory's waters drowns a little.

  • Memories were like sunshine. They warmed you up and left a pleasant glow, but you couldn't hold them.

  • Memory is subject to a filtering process that we don’t always recognize and can’t always control. We remember what we can bear and we block what we cannot.

  • People forget years and remember moments.

  • You remember only what you want to remember. You know only what your heart allows you to know.

  • Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone.

  • Nothing ever truly faded. Time only dulled the edges.

  • It's not the bad memories that tear a person apart. It's the good ones.